Many people team up to slim down for the added motivation having a fitness partner brings, but it isn't always possible. If you aren't fond of buddy workouts, have a complicated gym schedule or prefer different activities than your friends, you can still find motivation from those around you — or even total strangers — online. Check out these social communities that bring fit friends together and can inspire you to achieve your goals through support, challenges, real-time races and even cash wagers.
Share with Nike+ Apps: Whether you enjoy running, dancing or boxing, or you’re just walking to the mailbox, NikeFuel is a way to track your active life in a universal fashion. It allows any Nike+ device (like an iPhone 5 or later edition) to track your activity and turn it into NikeFuel points. Not only are these apps a way to record your own results, you can view and interact with your friends’ profiles, too.
The Nike+ Fuel app [iOS] allows you to share your goals and activity with friends, cheer them on during workouts and post photo updates to your social media accounts for added online motivation. You can compare your progress to the Nike+ population based on your gender, weight and age to see how you measure up to athletes around the world. You can also read others’ fitness tips and participate in challenges with the Nike+ Running app [iOS|Android]. Just select a distance, invite friends to join your challenge and race to the finish line for the ultimate motivator: bragging rights.
Join a Pact: Money talks, so why not make it a motivator in reach your fitness goals? Pact is a free app [iOS|Android] that allows you to “earn cash for living healthy, paid by members who don’t.” This online community of people are so dedicated to living healthier lives, they’ll bet their own money on it.
To participate, you pick your pacts: gym (to exercise), food logging (to track nutrition via MyFitnessPal) or veggie (to eat more fruits and vegetables). As a part of each pact, you set how many days per week you want to complete a workout or log your meals, or how many greens you want to consume in a week. Rewards are generally $0.30 to $5 per week, but the higher the stakes, the more money you’ll earn for completing the week’s challenges. And if you don’t reach your goals, you’ll be charged anywhere from $5 to $50 per day, depending on how much you choose to wager, and that money will be divided among those who upheld their end of the bargain for the week.
To keep you honest, the gym pact syncs easily with multiple fitness-tracking apps, uses the accelerometer as a motion tracker or uses GPS gym check-ins to verify your daily workouts. The food logging pact syncs directly with MyFitnessPal to ensure you complete your daily requirements. If you’re part of the veggie pact, you must upload a photo of the fruit or vegetable you’re eating and other Pact users vote to verify it.
Participating in Pact weekly wagers allows you to thrive off the motivation of strangers — and their wallets. One user testified, “Even for someone who is very active… Pact gives me that extra boost of motivation when meaningless excuses get in the way of my goals.”
>> Read more: 31 Ways to Stay Motivated
Connect with Fitbit: If you’ve hopped on the Fitbit wagon, you may think you’ve got all the motivation you need. But this fitness tracker has some cool added features that can help hold you accountable and motivate you to reach your fitness goals. Connect with friends to share stats, compete on the activity leaderboard and even send cheers (or taunts) to your fitness pals. Work out to earn Fitbit Challenge badges and show them off to your friends; when they return the favor, you'll be more motivated than ever to match, or exceed, their progress.
The Fitbit app [iOS|Android|Windows] is the world’s most accessible fitness tracking app as it is available on nearly 150 phones. And if you don’t have a supported mobile device, you can download your progress data directly to your Mac or Windows computer. Because Fitbit is already a popular personal motivator, syncing your friends' progress using an activity tracker with your own makes this a simple, yet extremely motivating tool. This app is also easy to sync to third-party challenge apps like Matchup or Pact if you need an extra push.
>> We asked moms to share their favorite apps for staying healthy. See what made the cut here!